When Private Power Owns The Government

November 3, 2011 Comments Off

Smells like Citizens United…

FDR On What Happens When Private Power Owns The Government.

Repost: Aw Crap. I just agreed with FOX News on Objective Journalism

October 28, 2010 Comments Off

The following is a repost of a entry of mine from a few years ago.

I’m sure this was just some “Blind Pig Finding an Acorn” type of moment, but it really creeped me out just the same. There really is no end to the utter blather coming out of FOX News, and so many of the utter moonbat comments end up as headlines elsewhere. But this time, FOX is correct. I doubt the know why they are correct, and the probably reached their conclusions through some leaps in logic worthy of Monty Pythons Holy Grail, but nevertheless, They got it.

Rawstory had the link on their site, here

If journalists vote, are they saddled with professional bias? A FOX News panel discussed the topic and came up with some strange analogies.

I immediately clicked on this link to get into this story, as I am very personally opinionated on this topic. It went on:

A column on  the Politico written by journalist Mike Allen prompted the debate. “I’m part of a minority school of thought among journalists that we owe it to the people we cover, and to our readers, to remain agnostic about elections, even in private,” he wrote. “I figure if the news media serves as an imperfect umpire, neither team wants us taking a few swings.”

Republican strategist Christine O’Donnell differed wildly in her interpretation of the journalist’s civic role. “Remember the first free elections in Afghanistan? The Taliban actually threatened death. They said that any woman who voted would have their fingers chopped off,” she said. “Yet you saw news reports of women lined up around the polling places — even if it meant that the terrorists were going to later chop off their fingers — because they know what it means to vote in a free election.”

“And then to hear journalists say, ‘I cannot be objective if I vote,’ then you should not be a journalist,” she added.

FOX News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. was almost as adamant as O’Donnell. “I think it’s ridiculous,” he exclaimed. “In fact it bothers me because it goes with the moral superiority that so-called journalists have, that their duty — which is not codified, not written in any law, or not understood by most people — is a higher responsibility than exercising the vote.”

“I’m disturbed by it,” he continued. “I think they should get real and act like real Americans.”

I was stunned. While the last line from the FOX host was their typical brand of cookie-cutter bravado, I agreed with his main point.

Impartial Journalists? Please.

No one, no one, is truly impartial. Everyone has opinions. Unless, of course, you know nothing about the topic at hand, then, and only then, you can be impartial, truly an objective observer. If you completely avoid learning about something, avoid any analysis of what you hear or see, and simply write what is told to you and print it as such, then, I guess, that would be impartial, it would be objective. But it wouldn’t be Journalism.

That’s called Stenography.

I get so bent about this because it isn’t a new concept to understand. Take my favorite source for Journalism: Hunter S. Thompson. His take?

So much for Objective Journalism. Don’t bother to look for it here — not under any byline of mine; or anyone else I can think of. With the possible exception of things like box scores, race results, and stock market tabulations, there is no such thing as Objective Journalism. The phrase itself is a pompous contradiction in terms.

And Hunter from an interview here

MH: How will history remember Bill Clinton?

HST: I don’t know about history. I don’t get any satisfaction out of the old traditional journalist’s view — “I just covered the story. I just gave it a balanced view.” Objective journalism is one of the main reasons American politics has been allowed to be so corrupt for so long. You can’t be objective about Nixon. How can you be objective about Clinton?

MH: Objective journalism is why politics have been corrupt for so long?

HST: If you consider the great journalists in history, you don’t see too many objective journalists on that list. H. L. Mencken was not objective. Mike Royko, who just died. I. F. Stone was not objective. Mark Twain was not objective. I don’t quite understand this worship of objectivity in journalism. Now, just flat-out lying is different from being subjective.

Hunter’s last line really makes the sticking point on the whole topic.

We become frustrated with the coverage we see on organizations like FOX, because they have have opinions, don’t pretend to be objective, and then go and use that as an excuse to flat out lie and make shit up.

Their justification is that they claim they are balancing out the impact of the “Liberal Media”. (Why lies balance out uncomfortable facts, I still don’t know)

The Mainstream Media in turn, has tried to counter this perception of Liberal Bias with the inclusion of a counterpoint of every argument in every story. We have seen this grow more and more ludicrous for years, where we now have a voluntary  “Fairness Doctrine” self-imposed by the leading “journalists” where no fact or opinion can get reported without an opposing view treated equally. (shout out to Joe Klein!)

I remain shocked that we haven’t gotten to the point of reporting stories about child-rapists, where we cut over to someone who says “Well, you know, we have our next guest who thinks that child-rape isn’t so bad…”

But I digress…

Peter Johnson Jr. was right. Journalists should vote, they should have opinions, and be honest about them. But he and I split there. It isn’t about being patriotic, or being a “Real American”.

If your job is to report the facts, you have to have learn about the facts. You have to research. You have to understand what is true and what is not, and you need to report that. Journalists need to know themselves as well, and be open about their bias. Honest, open bias can be understood by the reader, and doesn’t invalidate the writing, when is is coupled with honest, verifiable facts.

Those facts are what we need, not fake balance, and not propaganda either.

At least that is MY opinion. Honestly.

QOTD: Politics is the Art of Controlling Your Environment

September 1, 2010 Comments Off

That is one of the key things I learned in these years, and I learned it the hard way. Anybody who thinks that “it doesn’t matter who’s President” has never been Drafted and sent off to fight and die in a vicious, stupid War on the other side of the World–or been beaten and gassed by police for trespassing on public property–or been hounded by the IRS for purely political reasons–or locked up in the Cook County Jail with a broken nose and no phone access and twelve perverts wanting to stomp your ass in the shower. That is when it matters who is President or Governor or Police Chief. That is when you will wish you had voted.
–Hunter S. Thompson, Hey Rube

Woah…

March 9, 2009 § 1 Comment

political-pictures-barack-obama--1.jpg

Republicans just don’t know what they’re up against

February 12, 2009 Comments Off

You know I really haven’t taken the time to quote Rude Pundit in a long time. Sorry. Here’s to make amends…

The Rude Pundit: "So Republicans left Obama with no real choice but to get out there and, on a stage larger than Hannity or Joe the Scar has, pull down their pants and spank their little cheeks red in public. Here’s the President’s answer to Graham: ‘What I won’t do is return to the failed theories of the last eight years that got us into this fix in the first place, because those theories have been tested and they have failed. And that’s part of what the election in November was all about.’

It’s sad, truly, that Republicans just don’t know what they’re up against. No one gives a fuck what they have to say. That’s the baseline from which the GOP has to start if it wants to rebuild. They have made themselves irrelevant. It’s a hellish position to be in, but the demon rape couldn’t happen to a nicer group of folks. Most of the country gets it: we’re in serious, serious shit here. And they know that right now, the reduction of the solution to ‘tax cuts’ makes about as much sense as thinking you can water the desert with your piss.

And they haven’t gotten their mind around what it means to deal with Obama. For the majority of Republicans in Congress, they only have memories of Bill Clinton to compare. It was easier to degrade and pigeonhole Clinton, especially since he didn’t win 50% of the vote. But this shit is new. We’ve got a President who people want to follow, someone they admire. "

heh.

The New Deal Worked

February 10, 2009 Comments Off

Lots of conservatives are coming out of the woodwork right now to claim that they somehow are the ones to help fix the financial crisis that they created. And that New Deal style spending programs won’t work.

Wrong.

Quote:


The monthly data for industrial production show a near three-year collapse under President Hoover, ending when FDR came to office in March 1933. Production rocketed by 44 percent in the first three months of the New Deal and, by December 1936, had completely recovered to surpass its 1929 peak.

GDP, only available as annual averages, plunged 25.6 percent from 1929-1932, including by 13.0 percent in 1932. It stabilized in 1933, and then soared by 10.8 percent, 8.9 percent and 12.0 percent, respectively, in 1934, 1935 and 1936. Real GDP surpassed its 1929 peak in 1936 and never again fell below it. After-tax personal income, consumer spending, real private investment and jobs all reached or surpassed their 1929 peaks by late 1936.

 

There is so much debunking of the Amity Shales led garbage that it would be a waste of time to rehash it too much. Go read the above link, and check out This as well. Both are good.

Traditional marriage, Bible-style

December 10, 2008 Comments Off

Yet another great posting up about picking and choosing from Biblical passages to make modern laws. Here are some Marriage Laws based on Scripture. Heh.

A. Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)

B. Marriage shall not impede a man’s right to take concubines in  addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)

C. A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a  virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)

D. Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden.  (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30)

E. Since marriage is for life, neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

F. If a married man dies without children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to marry his brother’s widow or deliberately does not give her children, he shall pay a fine of one shoe and be otherwise punished in a manner to be determined by law. (Gen 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)

G. In lieu of marriage, if there are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)

Daily Kos: Traditional marriage, Bible-style

Make It Right – New Orleans

December 1, 2008 Comments Off

In some ways I consider myself lucky that I have never visited New Orleans – this way I don’t feel so much loss at what was destroyed. I get to keep an internal abstraction of the place that I don’t have for places that I am more familiar with. But what has really been so stunning is how long it has been and how little has been repaired there. So I was glad to see this article about some new rebuilding efforts going on. With Brad Pitt involved:

A year after the New Orleans storm, Pitt was horrified at the lack of progress in repairing the damage it wreaked, especially in the devastated African-American populated Lower Ninth Ward. "I couldn’t believe nothing was going on. I recalled the pictures of people on roofs, begging for help and I couldn’t believe that this was our America."

Determined to put his dual passions for architecture and environmentally-sound development to work, he and several partners started the Make It Right Foundation, whose aim is to build 150 homes for residents of the lower Ninth Ward – one of the hardest hit during the ’05 hurricane. He invited architects from around the globe to New Orleans to submit sustainable – and affordable housing solutions. Pitt convened a meeting with the architects, residents and community leaders to establish guidelines for rebuilding the neighborhood. "I never had any idea that so many people would show up for this. The model works and it’s replicable."

The foundation has it’s own site where you can see what has been done so far. It’s really pretty fascinating. What I also like is that Mike Holmes is involved. Mike is a General Contractor from Canada who has a show called Holmes on Homes, and is a huge consumer advocate for quality construction and quality homes. One of the big worries I always have  when I hear about rebuilding projects is about the quality. Mike being involved gives me good pause. Too much stuff gets put together is such a shoddy and haphazard manner, and it never really does anyone any good. These designs are all meant to be sturdy, affordable and sustainable. Looking at the plans, most of the designs have raised foundations, similar to what has been done in hurricane areas of Florida, to help minimize future flood damage.

All the designs are fascinating, and should give the owners real pride of ownership. Rebuilding community pride is just as important as rebuilding the houses themselves. The last thing needed is a shoddy public works project to replace the neighborhood, which would only run the risk of degenerating into crime and chaos, as so many have. People who have pride in their communities are motivated to not let that happen.

Nice. I hope it works out.

I like to Move it Move it…

November 17, 2008 Comments Off

I comment a lot about how people tend to be pretty geographically static, i.e., they don’t move. For like, generations. Now some dude over at Strange Maps has overlaid Historical Cotton Picking with votes for Obama.

It’s pretty amazing:

The link between these two maps is not causal, but correlational, and the correlation is African-Americans. Once they were the slaves on whom the cotton economy had to rely for harvesting. Despite an outward migration towards the Northern cities, their settlement pattern now still closely corresponds to that of those days.

During the Democratic primary, many African-American voters supported Hillary Clinton, thinking it unlikely Barack Obama would win the nomination, let alone the presidency. When it became apparent that Obama had a good shot at the nomination (and thereafter at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue itself), their support for Obama became near monolithic. As it turns out, president-elect Obama won with the an overall support of 53%, but that includes over 90% of black voters (1).

And while their votes did not swing their states towards ‘their’ (2) candidate, the measure in which black residents of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina voted for Obama is remarkable in that this particular voting pattern still corresponds with settlement patterns of almost a century and a half ago.

Largely, these groups of people haven’t migrated significantly in 150 years. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about that in Europe, where you have city-states hundreds and hundreds of years old. But I guess it holds true here too.

330 – From Pickin’ Cotton to Pickin’ Presidents « Strange Maps

Of Course Obama Forgave Lieberman

November 13, 2008 Comments Off

It has been an interesting week to listen to the great sound of teeth gnashing across America as the future Obama Administration starts to form, and too many people feel that they aren’t getting the political orthodoxy in the way that they want it. The shock that Obama might be willing to forgive Lieberman, the astonishment that he would want to bring in a DLC’er like Rahm Emanuel. Each twist and turn of the current political soap opera seems to elicit groans and screams from various wings of the Democratic faithful.

To those who can’t understand why Barack would make these choices, I would say read his own words. He has a lot of them out there, from long before this campaign started, or was won.

In addition to two books, countless speeches, and the congressional record, we have blog postings. He kept podcasts on his congressional site, and a very well done post on DailyKos. His posting is from 2005, and talks about the outrage and not filibustering the Roberts nomination. Specifically, he was being taken to task for not showing sufficient outrage at Democrats for voting for the Roberts nomination. He responds:

How can we ask Republican senators to resist pressure from their right wing and vote against flawed appointees like John Bolton, if we engage in similar rhetoric against Democrats who dissent from our own party line?  How can we expect Republican moderates who are concerned about the nation’s fiscal meltdown to ignore Grover Norquist’s threats if we make similar threats to those who buck our party orthodoxy?    

I am not drawing a facile equivalence here between progressive advocacy groups and right-wing advocacy groups.  The consequences of their ideas are vastly different. Fighting on behalf of the poor and the vulnerable is not the same as fighting for homophobia and Halliburton.  But to the degree that we brook no dissent within the Democratic Party, and demand fealty to the one, "true" progressive vision for the country, we risk the very thoughtfulness and openness to new ideas that are required to move this country forward.  When we lash out at those who share our fundamental values because they have not met the criteria of every single item on our progressive "checklist," then we are essentially preventing them from thinking in new ways about problems.  We are tying them up in a straightjacket and forcing them into a conversation only with the converted.

Personally, I was outraged at the Roberts nomination and the results thereof. But from there we had no choice but to move forward. The filibuster didn’t have support in Votes, nor support in public. The way to win that type of fight was pretty clear to Obama:

There is one way, over the long haul, to guarantee the appointment of judges that are sensitive to issues of social justice, and that is to win the right to appoint them by recapturing the presidency and the Senate.  And I don’t believe we get there by vilifying good allies, with a lifetime record of battling for progressive causes, over one vote or position.

There will always be some common ground on certain issues, and where this exists, we need to be willing to take advantage of it. Even if we have diametrically opposing views on everything else. But to do this, one of those sides has to be willing to accommodate, and open the conversation. We know pretty clearly that the Republicans simply aren’t ready or aren’t willing to do that. That’s why they are out of power. So that burden falls to us. We have to do the hard work to bring some of them into the conversation, give them a voice, and convince them to vote along side the Democrats. Hell, even within the Democrats there are enough differing opinions where this kind of outreach will be needed for virtually every vote. We are our own best opposition after all.

As such, we will always be doing the heavy lifting. We will have to work harder to make our points, to explain our positions, to achieve our goals. The Republicans come from a tight, largely single point of view, the Democrats are always more diverse. They are inherently cohesive, we are not. We have to work at it. Obama continues:

The bottom line is that our job is harder than the conservatives’ job.  After all, it’s easy to articulate a belligerent foreign policy based solely on unilateral military action, a policy that sounds tough and acts dumb; it’s harder to craft a foreign policy that’s tough and smart.  It’s easy to dismantle government safety nets; it’s harder to transform those safety nets so that they work for people and can be paid for.  It’s easy to embrace a theological absolutism; it’s harder to find the right balance between the legitimate role of faith in our lives and the demands of our civic religion.  But that’s our job.  And I firmly believe that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, or oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose.  Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose.  A polarized electorate that is turned off of politics, and easily dismisses both parties because of the nasty, dishonest tone of the debate, works perfectly well for those who seek to chip away at the very idea of government because, in the end, a cynical electorate is a selfish electorate.

This should sound very familiar, Barack wrote this before his campaign began, and kept this up throughout the campaign. His positions during the call for a "gas tax holiday" were not the easy, popular soundbites. His reaction to the Fiscal crisis was not the showy headline grabber. His response to Race and class and conflict each time required thought. Which frankly was not something that has been all too common in American politics, but it worked. The people responded to being treated like adults positively, and showed their appreciation to this with votes.

And this demonstrates one of his overriding goals for the campaign, and in his governing style:

Our goal should be to stick to our guns on those core values that make this country great, show a spirit of flexibility and sustained attention that can achieve those goals, and try to create the sort of serious, adult, consensus around our problems that can admit Democrats, Republicans and Independents of good will.  This is more than just a matter of "framing," although clarity of language, thought, and heart are required.  It’s a matter of actually having faith in the American people’s ability to hear a real and authentic debate about the issues that matter.

This isn’t just some "word salad" like that which Sara Palin has been pelting the American public with since her time in the spotlight. This is core to what Barack Obama thinks, and what drives him. He repeats this in his book The Audacity of Hope, and echoes it in his speeches. Its very consistent.  We have a real advantage in our new president in that he has given us all a great deal of writing, with his Books, Senate Blog, and speeches, that are more than just happy platitudes and demagoguery, but are valuable insights into how he thinks and why he acts the way he does. We should take advantage of this.

We have forgotten what it was like to have someone who is working this hard to telegraph their actions ahead of time. The degree of consistency in the writings that we have available should take quite a bit of the surprise out of what is happening now. Barack has shown that he is paying more than just lip service into the concept of building greater majorities than just by party, or by philosophy. His outreach toward, and frankly wins in, places like North Carolina and Indiana should offer some proof that this isn’t all crazy.

I’m still going to roll my eyes at forgiving Joe Lieberman, and I will view bringing in hawks and DLC’ers like Rahm with suspicion, but I will try to understand them. I am certain that we will see far more actions like this than less. And if President Obama runs the Government as well as he ran his campaign, I keep cutting him more slack.

Hopefully he will keep writing so we all can continue to understand what he thinks and why.

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